The #1 way to generate revenue for your dance studio is to keep as much of your revenue in-house as possible. While summertime is typically known as the “low-revenue season,” it doesn’t have to be that way.
With a little strategy and planning, you can reap the rewards of an excellent summer session that will likely (1) generate revenue, (2) introduce your programming to a number of new, prospective students, and (3) serve and affirm your current client base.
Below are some DOs and DON’Ts to help you rock your summer months!
Survey your community to understand their summer interests and needs.
Mix up themes and keep the vibe FUN!
Be flexible! Have a flexible make-up/ proration policy for people that may have advance, inflexible travel plans. Clients will appreciate it.
Follow-up with all summer program participants about enrolling for the main dance season.
Feel like you have to operate on a similar schedule to your regular season (e.g., close for a vacation week, take a break from weekend classes).
Stress about discounts/deals. With it being a recovery season, don’t neglect to focus on your financials.
Hesitate to cancel low enrollment programming. Set a required minimum, and if it isn’t met by 30 days out, offer to transfer students into something else (Note: never cancel programming last minute if it risks placing your clients in a bind.)
Wait until the last minute. Summer programming is much more enjoyable with advanced planning, communication, preparation, and strategy.
Looking for more great ideas from Chasta? Check out the following articles:
Chasta Hamilton is the Owner/Artistic Director of Stage Door Dance Productions in Raleigh, NC. She authored the best-selling book Trash The Trophies: How to Win Without Losing Your Soul. Later this spring, her TEDx talk “You Weren’t Built to Break” will debut, combining her passion for performance with the necessity of resilience.
Growing your studio doesn’t have to be stressful, right?
There’s got to be a better way; a better way to streamline marketing and sales, and get more students… right?
Yep, there is…
Hey, I’m Austin Roberson—Founder & CEO of Studio Studio, the all-in-one marketing automation tool for studios, and in this video, I’ll share with you my unique approach to growing your studio & scaling up fast.
Maybe you’re in a place where you’re already successful, but you constantly feel behind…
Or perhaps you’re growing quickly, but so is your to-do list…
Or maybe you’ve got a different problem because, for whatever reason, you can’t seem to get more students than you had last year so every year ends up the same 😩
These 5 pillars will help you build the foundation for rapid studio growth, so that you can stress less, get more students, and scale up fast!
As you are preparing for the new season of dance, you’re probably putting together ideas for your marketing plan and looking at the BIG picture of where your studio will be over the next nine or ten months. You may be considering which programs need the most marketing when you should focus on each one, where you want to spend your advertising dollars, and who your efforts will target.
One aspect of marketing that I LOVE to create with my team is our key message (or messages) for the year. These are the go-to phrases that promote who we are and how we serve our dance families; they speak to our customer avatars and what they desire from their experience with us. Our key messages inform and influence just about everything we market! We use them around the studio, in our print materials, and on social media.
Key messages can also tie into your recital theme, celebrate an anniversary studio year, appeal to specific goals, or even serve as the lead-up to a big reveal, like for a new building or new branding. Your key messages establish the vibe of your ENTIRE year … AND they help your marketing efforts stay consistent throughout the season!
To help you brainstorm key messages for your studio, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite ideas. Take one of these and run with it, or just use them as inspiration for your own interpretations! Either way, you’ll have many options to consider and share with your team.
Here are 7 Ideas for Your Studio’s Key Messages:
Confidence that Shines
If developing character qualities in your students is an important theme for you this year, this key message can easily apply to dancers of all ages and skill levels. You could also add key messages about other qualities, like teamwork, resilience, artistry, or commitment. It could also coordinate nicely with a recital called Shine Bright or Let Your Light Shine where you honor your students’ unique strengths.
Leading with Grace
Perhaps leadership is a critical message for your studio this season, especially if you are adding or improving programs with your student assistants, performance teams, social media ambassadors, or honor society members. This key message allows you to continue leaning on the lessons of leadership throughout the season, and presents fun opportunities to show your big kids and little kids together!
Lessons for Life
As we all know, dance lessons and life lessons go hand-in-hand, so if you are trying to appeal to parents who value the opportunity for their children to learn life skills through dance, this simple key message aligns perfectly. A monthly key message about a specific lesson could also keep this idea going strong.
Shaping the Community
Many small businesses are big influences in the community, and dance studios are no different! If you consider your studio an influencer (or you want to increase your influence) this key message says that you care about giving back and celebrating your hometown. It could open up opportunities for cross-promotions too, especially with other kid-centered businesses
One Family, Many Hearts
This may be a season where you are striving to rebuild connections at your studio; perhaps your retention is lower than you’d like, or you’ve noticed that you need to encourage more unity. Taking action on a key message like this one can show that you are moving forward with new motivation, where the studio is one big family.
Research tells us that everyone’s potential goes up when a group supports one another and feels encouraged. A positive self-image results when students can see themselves being successful; they feel stronger because they are inspired. This key message emphasizes that every child’s strength is limitless.
Celebrating a Legacy
Whether you are recognizing a studio anniversary, revealing a new project, designing a new logo, or commemorating a milestone, a celebratory key message keeps the momentum going all year long and is super-fun to incorporate into your recital!
No matter which key messages you use at your studio this year, remember that you can get a LOT of mileage out of just one or two ideas if you create a plan for putting them in action. Capitalize on your team’s strengths and involve them in how to implement the messages too; their personal connection to the message is essential!
I hope YOU find a key message or two that fits perfectly at your studio this year, and I encourage you to put your key messages in the comments below, so we can ALL benefit from sharing ideas. Wishing you much success as you put your choices into action!
The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.
Should I step back from teaching to focus on studio business?
There are only 2 questions you need to answer to make this decision.
I meet a lot of studio owners in my travels, and there seems to be one thing that unites us—we all have a similar backstory. Somewhere along the way in life we fell in love with dance. We became dedicated to creating a career out of dance; we were passionate about the power of dance to change lives; and we were resourceful at using our skills and connections to make a difference in the lives of others.
I believe that studio owners are unique in this way, and this passion for sharing our love of dance is what drives us to succeed. But as we grow in our studio careers, we realize that the job of running a studio is about so much more than dance. We discover that we need to learn how to lead people, manage accounting, develop programming, understand new marketing trends and more. As your studio grows, the business needs can begin to rival the artistic side for your time and attention.
When this happens, you might feel like you’ve come to a crossroads. I know I did! This is where you have to start making decisions about the best place to direct your focus in this new season of life.
Should you step back from teaching to focus on studio business? Continue reading to see the only two questions you need to answer to make this decision.
There are only two questions you need to answer when deciding if you should step back from teaching:
Where is my zone of genius at the studio?
Your zone of genius is the place you want to be! This is where your talent and your passion intersect, and it may very well be in the classroom. If you wake up in the morning and can’t wait to teach—and you are a skilled teacher—then this is a strength area you can’t ignore or suppress.
If this is you, I would encourage you to stick with teaching because you flourish there! Your zone of genius might be in other areas too, so take note of those now before moving on to Question 2.
I am not shy to admit that although I am an excellent teacher, choreography was never my real zone of genius. I can do it, but I really have to work at it and have others on my team who are more naturally gifted in this area. Me? I prefer to “choreograph” the business side of things; creating new programs and marketing efforts to promote our work in the community.
When I was scheduled to teach several classes a week, the preparation time alone would cause me angst because it felt like it was taking time away from the areas of my business I was much better at handling (not to mention time away from my growing family).
With that realization, I made the decision to step back from teaching (to only one class per week) and focus on my leadership skills. Eventually, I stepped out of teaching altogether to focus on my family and running the business.
Who can I equip (or hire) to work in the areas that are NOT in my zone of genius?
If your zone of genius is in teaching, then it’s essential that you are surrounded by a team of people who are talented in the other areas of your business. For example, you may need an office manager who can take on more customer service and administrative responsibilities, or you may need a bookkeeper to make sure your accounting stays clean and up to date each month.
If your zone of genius (like mine) is in an area other than the creation of dances and preparation of lessons, then it’s probably time to step out of the classroom or to consider a reduced teaching schedule. Talk with your staff members to see who is interested in accepting more opportunities to teach, or begin the hiring process to bring new teachers on board.
If you are currently the primary teacher at your studio, consider stepping out of the classroom gradually—over a year or two—to make the transition smoother for your students and their parents. My transition out of the classroom was a five-year process that took me from teaching 27 classes per week to four, and then eventually to none.
I should pause and note here that even though I no longer teach weekly classes, I am still responsible for the quality of our classrooms and the artistic choices that end up on our stages. No matter which side of the business you decide to focus on, you still have responsibility for oversight of the other side of the business—even if you are not in the daily details of that aspect.
As a business owner, you will always have different hats to wear at your studio. But because of your personal history and passion for the art of dance, it can be a challenge to know whether “teacher” should still be one of them.
If you’ve ever thought about whether or not you should still be in the classroom, reflect back on your answers to the two questions here. Harmony can be found with both “the business side” and “the teaching side” of your studio; they are both vital to your studio’s success, and you will naturally have more strengths on one side than the other. I encourage you to play to those strengths and stand in your zone of genius as much as possible!
Connect with me @mistylown on social media or email me at email@example.com if you’d like to talk about where your zone of genius is, or to share your own experience of staying in or stepping out of the classroom. I wish you success as you determine which direction to dance in next!
Looking for more dance studio owner insights? Check out these other articles and resources:
There’s nothing more satisfying than the feeling you get when your studio is thriving! When the hallways are buzzing and the classes are full, you feel such pride in having grown your business to a successful place. But it’s not all sunshine and daisies, of course. Success can also mean growing pains in every facet of your business—especially at recital time.
As your studio gains families and dancers, you will inevitably need to decide how to present your recital in the best way possible, which may mean adding shows as you grow. The single 90-minute performance that worked well five years ago might no longer be a reasonable option if you’ve doubled your student count since then. While there’s no magic enrollment number that equals two shows (or three or four!) there are certain factors you can consider in your planning process.
If you are at the tipping point, keep reading to learn about the four factors to consider when deciding whether to add a second show for your recital:
Here are the four factors to consider when deciding whether to add another show for your recital:
Your enrollment vs. the number of seats at your venue. Take a look at your current student count and compare it to the number of seats available for you to sell. If each student brought two guests, would you fill all the seats? What about three or four guests each?
My takeaway when it comes to available seats is that you a) want your customers to invite as many guests as they want, and b) you don’t want to risk selling out of tickets. Turning people away not only feels bad for a studio owner, it’s just not great for business (I’ve been there and wouldn’t want to go back!).
The total length of time for a show. If your recital is over two hours (including intermission), it’s time to consider adding another show. If Disney can’t keep our attention for more than two hours in a movie, then we probably can’t keep an audience’s attention for longer than that either.
To forecast what this year’s recital length would be like, look at the number of routines your recital has and how long each routine is estimated to last. Total up that amount of time and add in a minimum of 30 seconds per routine as a buffer, plus the time you allow for intermission, announcements, or any other presentations. That should give you an accurate approximation of how long your show would be.
An ideal number will be under 120 minutes. We’ve gone to as many as six shows in the past and then cut back to five shows to try to make things easier on the staff. But the shows got too long, so guess what? Back to six shows we go in 2019.
Backstage organization. Think about your venue’s backstage area: are your students feeling cramped in their dressing rooms? Do they have to wait long stretches of time before they dance on stage? A yes to either question might be a sign that it’s time to branch out to an additional show.
Ask your staff and volunteers what it’s like backstage from their perspective. Sometimes all the organization in the world won’t help if there is simply not enough space.
Customer feedback. If you haven’t already done so, survey your customers about their previous recital experience at your studio. Ask questions like:
Were you able to get the tickets you needed?
Was the ticketing process painless or panicked? Was the length of the show too short, too long, or just right?
Did your child have a good experience backstage?
These answers will be useful for you to evaluate as you are making recital decisions, and they may nudge you toward adding another show if the feedback tells you that it was hard to get tickets or the show felt too long. Understanding the recital from your customers’ points of view will be helpful, so offer the survey with an open mind and a willingness to make changes.
As you make recital plans and decide how many shows to present, look at these four factors as your guide to the best path forward. Most studio owners I know are always in pursuit of a perfect recital plan so the day can run smoothly and customers are pleased with the experience. While perfect may not be practical, I do believe excellence is always within reach!
In the comments below, tell us how you plan to proceed with recital this year, or what you are thinking about doing differently. You can also connect with me on social media @mistylown to continue the discussion of recital shows. In the meantime, I’ll be cheering for you as you plan for the big show!
Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:
You’ve held your open house. You’ve put out your back-to-school social media campaigns. You’ve advertised in a local parenting publication. If you’re like me, you are feeling like you are on a roll for getting new students into the studio this time of year!
The good news is, new students are coming in and you are VERY glad to see them. The bad news is, maybe you feel like your existing students need a little extra attention now, that they need to be thanked and loved on for choosing your studio.
Retaining students—not just getting them in the door—is at the heart of sustaining your business over time and demonstrating that you have happy clientele. We often think of retention mid-year, when some kids want to quit, or at the end of the season, when we want them to re-register after recital. But this crucial back-to-school time can’t be ignored. It is an excellent time—right out of the gate—to show you personally care about your dance families and appreciate their business.
So classes are in session, and you’re meeting new faces every day….how can you best use this time to show the love? What can you do to increase retention and keep those families engaged?
Keep reading for 4 Way to Boost Dance Studio Retention Early in the Season.
Meet people in the hallway – OK, I know this might seem like an obvious one, but hang in there with me. Make a point, every day during the first week of dance classes, to walk the hallways and mingle with your customers. Learn names and ask about their summer, and you’ll begin forming real relationships. It’s these high-quality relationships that have much more meaning than just a “hello” or “goodbye” …. you get to know people! You won’t do this every week, but be sure to do it during the most important weeks. But the positivity you gain from making a true effort to know your customers is priceless.
Have a “withdrawal turnaround” plan – You know these calls will start coming about the third week of classes: “She’s too tired.” “They moved her swimming lessons to Tuesday.” “She doesn’t seem to like ballet anymore.” It can seem like the beginning of the year is rife with people who get started, and then want to withdraw from lessons. Turning attrition to retention isn’t guaranteed, but it’s worth trying a few extra steps. Having a “withdrawal turnaround” plan with your staff can completely shift the process and help retain customers who might have otherwise disappeared. Be prepared to offer families a new day of the week or a different style of dance instead of withdrawing right away – a free trial of that new class couldn’t hurt! Chances are they didn’t realize what else could work for their schedule, or they didn’t know that their tiny dancer might really love a jazz class.
Calls, emails, and cards – A personal “check-in” phone call, email, or handwritten card to every enrolled student’s family can go a long way to show they are not just a number at your studio. Decide what you can do yourself, and delegate the rest to a staff member or two. The phone call could be as easy as saying, “Thank you for dancing with us this season! How is Sara enjoying her classes?” And then just listen (and take notes)! An email can say something similar, along with a special message from the teacher. And a gratitude-filled, handwritten card – well, that is worth much, much more than the price of the stamp. Choose the method that makes the most sense for your time and your studio, and run with it! Not only do you get to show that you care, these communications may open the door for you to solve problems that you didn’t even know existed – saving you AND your customers from future frustrations.
Ask for feedback – Although we may typically survey our customers at the end of each season, why not reach out at the start too? A simple “How are we doing?” can go a long way. Maybe you had no idea that parking was an issue for families during the 4-5pm hour, or maybe there were inconsistencies with the way welcome folders were distributed. Hearing this valuable feedback right from the get-go can help you make immediate improvements for some things, and plan for others – keeping your customers happy. When your dance families feel truly heard, they’ll feel more invested in staying at your studio over time.
Retention is something you ALWAYS want to strive for, and starting right away during the back-to-school months is imperative. Take these four tips and customize them to your studio, then tell us in the comments what worked well for you! You can also find me on social @MistyLown. I’d love to hear from you. Until then, I wish you a successful start to the year with your retention only going up and up and up!
Looking for more great enrollment and retention ideas? Check out the following articles:
Literally speaking, producing a recital is the act of looking back and showing what you have learned or accomplished over the course of a school year. It’s all about making great memories that can be enjoyed for years to come. The whole recital experience is full of memory-capture elements such as the recital program book, the celebratory trophy, the annual t-shirt and the commemorative DVD and group photos.
In fact, if you really think about it, most of what we promote at recital celebrates what has already been DONE. Today I hope to convince you that we should be spending as much, if not more time, promoting what IS TO COME at our spring shows.
Don’t miss promotional opportunities at your recital this year.
Keep reading for 5 ways you can serve your audience by promoting what’s coming up at your studio at recital 2017.
The captive audience
Marketers know the best audiences are captive audiences. As a dance studio owner you have better than a captive audience. You have a captive and INTERESTED audience. Consider the other places that companies try to market to captive audiences: taxi cab screens, bus ads, airplane commercials and posters in waiting rooms. Even the backs of bathroom doors in restaurants have become the target of ad placement! Take advantage of the fact that you have a captive AND interested audience by promoting things they might be interested in at your show.
The recital program book
The recital program book has a long shelf life. Not only is it read by many of the attendees for much of the show (i.e. pretty much anytime the dancer they came to see is not on stage), but it is likely to stay on the kitchen table for weeks to come. Placing promotions for summer and fall classes throughout your program book is a great way to get parents and grandparents thinking of the next thing their dancers can sign up for. Be sure to include an easy link to sign up and don’t be surprised if you actually receive a registration at intermission.
The pre-show video
I was recently teaching for a convention that had a high energy announcement video playing on a loop before the showcase began. One of the prompts in the video was a reminder to sign up for nationals as well as an announcement of the next season’s event dates. The video gave us something to focus on while waiting for the show while informing us of how to take the next step with the convention. So guess what I did? I ordered a video and looked up their summer camp info. Their promotion definitely worked on me (and I was on staff!)
The on-stage announcement
Whether you do your own announcements or hire an emcee to play host at your recital, close the show by thanking the families for their participation. Enthusiasm for dance will be at an all time high immediately following the success of recital. Ride the momentum by inviting kids back to the studio in the week after recital for auditions, placements, parent-teacher conferences or registration for fall classes. And, yes, do it right from the stage as a small part of your closing comments.
The follow up thank you
Immediately after recital parents should get an email (or better yet a text) with a short, but heartfelt appreciation for their hard work and dedication. Include a link to sign up for next year’s classes or to audition for teams for upcoming season. Make it easy by writing the thank you a week ahead of time and them scheduling the delivery for an hour after the show. Don’t worry if you are not tech-savvy. There are several email or text service providers that can do this for you. All you have to do is write a few sentences from the heart and provide a link.
Promoting at recital doesn’t have to feel sales-y. Promoting what you provide for kids and informing them how they can take them next steps at a time when they are most interested in learning more is SERVICE.
Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:
Of the many hats studio owners wear, one of the most important ones is that of a marketer for our business. In fact, if you think of all of the ways you have marketed your studio over the past year you will probably be surprised to find out just how much time is spent promoting your studio to the next generation of dancers. When I reflected on my studio’s marketing initiatives over the course of this school year I came up with a long list including: printed brochures, postcards, Facebook ads, free trial classes, free dance days, community performances, camps, workshops, master classes, birthday parties, field trips, print ads in the local parenting magazine and various community partnerships.
But if you are only marketing to the public you are missing one of the most powerful marketing tools of all: re-selling to your existing client. Various studies report that it costs anywhere between five to seven times more to attract a new client than to re-sell an existing client. And there is no greater opportunity to re-sell the value of being a part of your studio to your families than the upcoming annual studio dance recital.
Make the most of your annual studio dance recital by adding these 5 Easy WOWs to make a great day-of experience for both dancers and attendees:
Tell your story
The recital is a great opportunity to tell your story either in a welcome letter at the beginning of your recital program book or laced throughout the show announcements. For example, if one of your core values is being family-friendly, take time to highlight some of the ways a studio becomes like family. Ideas include having seniors share what it meant to them to grow up at the studio or including quotes from parents and students in your program book. If academic achievement is one of your core values, take time to highlight how your the discipline of dance is helping your students to achieve in the classroom.
Go full service
There are a lot of details that go into planning recital including rehearsal times, picture information, show details, costume instructions and hair/makeup directions. While it’s important to have all information on a master document, it’s even better to deliver JUST the necessary information so that parents, especially first time parents, don’t have to wade through hundreds of lines of information just to find the few details that apply to them. Whether you present this info digitally or a hand out, parents will appreciate this concierge approach.
Greet them at the door
Nothing says “We’re happy you are here!” like actually having someone at the front door of rehearsal and recital actually greeting families in person. At rehearsals we have a rotating team of teachers greeting students at the door and showing them where to go. At recital, our teachers move from the greeter position to the backstage and dressing posts and I take the lead on greeting families. Every year I hear from families, especially new ones, how nice it is that the studio owner is accessible. Recital is likely the only time of year you will see every parent in one weekend so this is your chance to get personal and thank them for being part of your program.
Double down on details
Over the nineteen years I’ve had my studio I have found that more parents arrive at our rehearsals and shows each year with less preparation. We do our best to combat this trend on the front side with great information, but still we will have parents show up to rehearsal without the proper tights and costumes that need attention. We’ve turned this trend into an opportunity to serve families and provide some WOW with our “Emergency Table.” The emergency table is a place where we can solve most of the common problems of rehearsal and recital. We have a sewing machine, a steamer, extra tights, shoes and makeup. If it’s broken or they haven’t bought it yet, we can fix it. Our Emergency Table has saved a lot of tears over the years.
Adopt the phrase: “Everything is figure-out-able”
Even with the best of planning you are going to run into issues once the curtain goes up, so have your team adopt the mentality that “everything is figure-out-able!” Did a child forget their shoes? No problem, we can borrow a pair from another student. Missing headpiece? No worries, we can come up with a solution. Did something major happen backstage? No need to stop the show if you can calmly switch the order of a couple of dances. Issues and challenges that happen backstage should never become the audience’s worry. Just remember, “everything is figure-out-able”!
So give these a try! Make the most of a marketing opportunity that you already have and create an even better recital day for your dance families.
Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:
Your recital is likely your largest production during the calendar year, and often can be a deciding factor whether or not parents will return with their children for the following year. Pricing your dance recital tickets correctly is an extremely crucial part of planning.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published January 21, 2015. It has been updated with current data as of February 2017.
First, decide your goal.
Are you just trying to cover production costs? Will your recital profits provide some financial cushion for the slow summer months? Are proceeds going to charity? Beginning with the end in mind will help you not only make decisions about the production, but will ultimately help you arrive at a price point that helps you achieve your objectives.
Next, figure out your cost.
Consider all of the cost drivers for the typical recital production. There’s auditorium rental (plus rehearsal), lights, sound, music mixing and licenses, security, insurance, staff payroll, tickets and programs, just to name a few.
Finally, do the math.
Use the simple formula:
Ticket Price = (desired profit + cost) / (Tickets per student x Number of students )
If you’re unsure about how many tickets per student, work with the average. In 2016, our studio clients sold about 3 dance recital tickets per student enrolled.
What do others charge?
At TutuTix, we know a lot about dance recital ticketing. Working with over 1,100 studios in the US, we’ve sold over $36 million dollars’ worth of dance recital tickets since we were founded in 2010, including $10 million in the spring of 2016 alone. Here are some interesting stats:
The average price for dance recital tickets in the US in 2016 was $13.74.
In 2016, the average studio sold more than $11,000 worth of tickets per recital season, and more than $4,600 per event (performance).
The most popular prices are $10 (21%), $15 (20%), $12 (15%), and $20 (10%), collectively, and account for more than 66% of all sales.
Can you charge more?
Apart from the overwhelming popularity of these prices, there is no identifiable correlation between ticket price and number of sales, which means that sales DO NOT SUFFER when tickets are priced higher. Further, there is no correlation between price and whether the ticket sold in advance versus at the door, meaning sales aren’t even delayed when tickets are priced higher.
There ARE compelling differences between tickets sold as general admission and those sold as reserved. Ticket buyers are willing to pay a premium for reserved seating, with reserved seats selling for an average of $14.03, over just $10.80 for general admission–an almost 30% difference! Check out our article on reserved seating here for even more in-depth information.
Need more information?
Our dance recital ticketing experts have helped hundreds of dance studios price, sell, and distribute their recital tickets. To request a professional consultation please contact us.
About seven years ago I was a partner in a business that managed five daycare centers. It was an excellent learning experience, but one lesson continues to rise above the rest:
The concept of “break points” in enrollment.
And, this is how I learned that 9 students are less profitable than 8!
Curious about this math? Keep reading for an explanation of way break points are crucial for a profitable dance class size.
Daycares have very strict rules regarding student-teacher ratios by age. For example, for five year olds students, the ratio is 1:8. Practically speaking this means there can only be eight students in the care of one teacher. Financially speaking this means that enrolling eight five year olds is very profitable for daycares because they have maximized their income opportunity for the hour of paying the teacher.
And this leads to the concept of a “break point”.
If enrolling eight students in a day care is optimal, enrolling nine students destroys profitability because the daycare center will have to open an additional classroom and hire an additional teacher for just ONE student.
It simply doesn’t make sense for a daycare center to add that additional expense for just one student. So they manage their risk by closing enrollment until their waiting list builds to 5 or 6 names before committing to open another classroom and hire another teacher.
The lesson of the “breakpoint” caused me to look at my “always enrolling” philosophy at the studio a little closer. I found that although our enrollment was “bigger than ever” our bottom line wasn’t reflecting that growth. Digging a little deeper, I found we were running several classes with a small number of students that would’ve been better served to be combined into fewer, but more fully utilized, classes.
Have you ever felt like you were working harder, serving more students, yet making less profit? If so, now might be a good time to take a closer look at your enrollment distribution as you start planning classes for next year. Just remember the lesson I learned from my time in daycare management: Be careful about crossing breakpoints. Fewer, fuller classes is better for the bottom line.
Looking for other enrollment-related tips? Check out:
At a recent conference, I recently had the chance to share a presentation with studio owners on producing a profitable dance recital. I wanted to share it here; hopefully it will be of value to our blog readers as well! The major points of the dance conference presentation are below. Let us know if you’d like more detail on any of this information.
Three BIG Ideas to Make Your Recital More Profitable
Recital Fee vs. Online Sales
Many studio owners ask: “Should I charge a recital fee or just do ticket sales?” The answer is BOTH. The recital fee allows you to capture revenue at the beginning of the dance year, but a ticket sale presents an opportunity later in the year to maximize your profits in ways that add value to the experience your performers and attendees.
And that leads us to BIG Idea #1…
Big Idea #1: Bundle and Sell Online
Consumers spend more when they use a credit card than when they make purchases with cash. You can present merchandise purchase options with your ticket sales and customers will be more likely to buy, especially if they perceive that there is a bundle.
Big Idea #1: Bundle and Sell Online, cont’d.
All of our clients who sell merchandise online in advance report higher merchandise sales, with some reporting a 2x increase over previous years when they would accept cash only at the event. In addition, online sales enable you to more closely approximate the amount of merchandise you need to have on hand, so you have less inventory that goes unsold.
Big Idea #2: Inventory Management/Reserved Seating
Recognize that your seats are your inventory, and sell them in the most appropriate way to make more money. Seats in the front are worth more than seats in the back. If ticket buyers complain about a change in prices this year, explain that prices for the seats in the back are the same, but seats in the front are worth more, and therefore cost more.
So, why should you price seats according to their value?
Better experience for the ticket buyer = higher perceived value.
Offer perks for more loyal families.
Increases urgency to get the ticket = you get the money in hand sooner.
2016 Per Ticket Data
Reserved seating is a type of seating setup in which the ticket buyer can choose specific seats they want to sit in. Now, why is this important?
The average price paid in 2016 for a general admission ticket to a dance recital nationwide was $10.80, vs. $14.03 for a reserved ticket! That’s a 30% difference!
2016 Per Ticket Data, cont’d.
Moreover, the average gross per event with general admission seating was $1,715, while the average gross per event with reserved seating was $5,370! Don’t leave money on the table!
Big Idea #3: Generate Leads
Owners put forth an inordinate amount of effort into producing a recital, and most of the time, the only people exposed are the ones who already know how great their studio is! That’s such a waste! Your RECITAL is a prime opportunity to SHOWCASE your studio to prospective families and the community.
Invite “warm” prospects to your recital
Donate tickets to community charities
Leverage local schools / end of year activities
BUNDLE and sell online
Manage your INVENTORY wisely
Use your recital to GENERATE LEADS
So you want to sell tickets and merchandise online—now what?
TutuTix: The Easiest Way to Sell and Distribute Tickets to Your Dance Performances
How It Works: Step 1 – You Sign Up Online
It’s easy to get started with our easy online sign-up form. We just need some basic information in order to set up your events, including:
Your event info
The ticket prices
The date you want your tickets to go on sale
Your seating chart (if you plan on using assigned seating)
Your dedicated relationship manager will walk you through the process and help you fill in the blanks, and answer any questions you may have. After we have your information, our staff sets up your event, and you’ll get a final opportunity to review your event before we make tickets available to the public.
How It Works: Step 1 – You Sign Up Online, cont’d.
Codes? Comps? No Problem! With more than 1,200 clients nationwide, chances are, we’ve done every kind of presale setup there is. We can do:
Reserved seating, general admission and mixed reserved/general seating.
Promo codes, discount codes and comps.
Shopping cart for multiple performances or merchandise sales.
How It Works: Step 2 – Patrons Buy Tickets
When your tickets go on sale, your patrons can buy them:
Online at tututix.com/yourstudioname
On their mobile devices
On your Facebook page
From our toll-free call center
How It Works: Step 2 – Patrons Buy Tickets, cont’d.
For reserved seating, online ticket buyers can select their own seats with our easy-to-use seatPower seat selector.
How It Works: Step 2 – We Deliver Tickets
To Your Patrons – Your patrons can choose to get tickets delivered instantly to their email or smartphone, or to have souvenir tickets mailed to them. Tickets are mailed out immediately, and usually arrive within one week of purchase.
And to You – A few days before the event, we print any unsold tickets on the same keepsake ticket stock and ship them directly to you for FREE as part of our Door Ticket Kit so that you can have tickets on hand for door sales.
You Get Paid Weekly
We deposit ticket proceeds into your account weekly, giving you the flexibility to use those funds when you need them.
Your patrons can choose to have full-color, foil-embossed barcoded keepsake tickets mailed to them. We even print the dancer’s name directly on the tickets! Tickets are mailed out immediately, and usually arrive within one week of purchase.
Customizable Print-at-Home Tickets
Our print-at home tickets are customizable! You can promote upcoming classes, workshops or performances, or even sell advertising to your event sponsors!
Door Ticket Kit
Our FREE door ticket kit makes it easy to sell any remaining tickets on the day of your event.
iPhone and Android Scanner Apps
Need an easy way to scan tickets at the door? Our free scanner apps are available for iPhone and Android.
A dance studio is a large, open space suitable for a variety of activities, so why not get the most out of it? Dance studio rental is a fantastic way to maximize revenue. But don’t hand over the keys just yet – read our guide below to get started.
Why Rent out Your Studio?
Renting out your dance studio is a great way to generate extra income, especially during the slower summer months. Once you secure trustworthy renters, the effort on your end is minimal – you make money simply from letting someone use your space. Renting is especially helpful if you need to travel to attend a conference, perform in a show or even just take that well-earned vacation you’ve been putting off for years – with other people using your space, you can rest easy knowing that the power won’t be shut off at your studio while you’re away.
Dance studio rental also generates additional income by exposing your classes and services to new clients. Everyone that attends events held by renters at your studio will see firsthand the programs you offer and the space’s atmosphere, which can lead to new students. This type of exposure can sometimes be more effective than traditional marketing methods.
Who Can You Rent To?
The versatile design of a dance studio makes it a great fit for a wide range of activities. You can rent out the space for children’s birthday parties, and, if you have the resources, parents can hire one of your instructors to lead the party. The wood floors, high ceilings, sound systems and mirrored walls make dance studios a great fit for hosting fitness classes, like pilates and yoga.
If there’s a gym located near your studio, ask if they need extra space to hold their classes. Community groups and children’s scout troops are always looking for open spaces where they can hold events and meetings, too, along with local small businesses searching for an open space for team-building activities, retreats and training seminars.
Another creative way you can rent out your studio is by using it as a theater. Hanging black curtains on rods, adding seat risers and installing a few extra lights on the ceiling can transform a practice space into one fitting for performance. Dance Studio Life interviewed one studio owner who made an area of her studio workable as both a teaching space and a theater on a budget.
“You don’t have to have a large pocketbook to do the things you want to do. You just have to have a mission and share it—if you build it, they will come,” said Jonna Maule of Company Ballet School and Performing Arts Center in Spokane, Washington, in an interview with the site.
Once you’ve equipped your space with the basic theater equipment, you can rent it out to local performance groups, schools, dance troupes and bands. An added bonus is that your dancers now have a performance space in their studio, too.
“Successful renting depends on preparation and research.”
Liabilities to Consider
Successful and profitable renting depends on adequate preparation and research. Your first step should be to check whether your lease agreement for your facility allows you to rent out the space to other people, according to Dance Teacher magazine.
Safety is also another important consideration. Read up on your existing insurance policies and what they cover for outside renters and create a rental agreement outlining the risks the renter is responsible for that you can share with each client. It’s also necessary for the renter to have their own liability insurance so that you are not held responsible if they injure themselves during their classes or events.
With the chilly temperatures and few hours of daylight, summer seems ages away. While it’s hard to imagine lazy days of sun during not-so-fun January, it’s a good time to start thinking about how you will generate revenue for your studio during the summer months. Since many families go on vacation, ensuring your dance studio has an income from May to September takes some creativity. There are many summer dance ideas that your studio can keep revenue up during the summer months, including camps, intensives and workshops, and by renting out your facility.
During the summer, we’re all guilty of spending a few too many minutes daydreaming about the beach while we’re supposed to be working. But keep in mind that kids are even more susceptible to laziness and distraction during these dog days. To remain profitable over the school break, dance studios need to offer creative programs that keep students engaged and entertained.
Here are some summer dance ideas your studio can generate income this summer:
Summer camps are a win-win for everyone: Kids get out of the house, parents get some more time for themselves and dance studios get increased visibility. Camps can take place over a few days, a week or even a full month. Whichever duration you choose, the important thing is that your attendance policy is flexible. Since families have vacations and other commitments during the summer, letting students drop in and avoiding scheduling camp on Fridays and weekends makes the program convenient for parents. Also, allowing parents to pay for a total number of days, as opposed to one set fee for the entire camp, accommodates summer plans and reduces stress, which ultimately means greater profits for your studio.
Camps are especially great for young children, who are typically at home during summer break with lots of energy to spare! While your camp should include some elements of dance, it’s important to keep in mind that kids are raring to let loose and have fun. A creative camp theme that combines movement with crafts and other activities will garner the most interest and keep kids engaged.
Here are some easy theme ideas:
Princess Party: Kids will love living out their fairy tale dreams with this theme. Have them wear their favorite costumes to camp and spend the day dancing to songs from princess movies. Kids can decorate crowns as a fun craft, and lunchtime can be transformed into a royal tea-time!
Fairy/Butterfly Garden: Have the kids don sparkly wings for a day of fluttering fun. After learning some simple choreography, campers can “fly” around the room, maneuvering their way past some easy obstacles. The fairies or butterflies can pair up and learn a dance routine together that they then present for their friends. For a craft, the fairies can decorate wands and the butterflies can draw or paint colorful butterfly friends.
Pirates: A great idea from Dance Studio Life is offering camps that are geared more toward boys at the same time as your other camps, since parents are then more likely to enroll siblings. Mini-mateys will love a swashbuckling pirate camp, where they can learn simple dance-inspired “sword fight” routines (with foam cutlasses, of course!) and watch scenes from their favorite pirate films.
Intensives appeal especially to teenage and young adult dancers and are a great chance for students to dive into subjects that they may not have a chance to learn about during the school year. Try to make them as creative and in-depth as possible to attract the most students. To give your intensive an extra draw, hire “guest teachers” from local universities or big city-studios. Another idea is to focus your intensives on unique specialty subjects that expand students’ experience with dance. For example, Juilliard’s three-week summer intensive includes classes in yoga and improvisation, and collaborates with the music program. Another creative idea is the Dance College Preparation Intensive offered by Cornish College of the Arts, which provides students with technique classes in several styles along with lectures in helpful areas like essay writing.
One-day workshops are flexible and low-commitment, which makes them perfect for the summer months. To attract the most students, keep the purpose of the workshop ultra-specific. Dedicate the day to improving a specific set of moves, or focus on other useful skills, like choreography or improvisation. Think about an area that’s important for a dancer to learn in order to improve and grow, but that isn’t usually offered in regular classes. For example, Skidmore College’s Summer Dance Workshop includes a course in Performance Techniques.
“Rent out your studio for birthday parties or town recreation programs.”
Rent Out Your Studio
In addition to offering the programs above, renting out your studio will help you garner a higher income during the summer. Rent out the studio for birthday parties and town recreation programs or to school teams and fitness instructors. Consider the demographics and specific needs of your community to generate the most revenue from renting out your facility. DanceTeacher magazine profiled the owners of Downtown Dance Factory in New York City, who began offering birthday parties after noticing that there was a space in the local market.
“We knew from our own experience as moms that there was a demand for interesting, well-run birthday parties, and in downtown Manhattan, hardly anyone has room for that type of party at home,” said Hanne Larsen, one of the owners, in an interview with the magazine.
Beyond creating additional income, renting out your facility introduces new dancers to your programs. The more people that come into your studio, the better, and many parents whose kids attend events or parties at your studio will enroll them for classes come autumn.
Keep your studio hot this summer with these creative income generators.
No one in our industry would question that producing a recital takes the TOP spot for biggest project of the year. Coming in at a close second, however, is the process of ordering recital costumes. From concept to selection, from measuring to ordering, from try-ons to exchanges and alterations, recital costumes can be almost as time intensive as putting on the show! The costuming process presents an important opportunity for studio owners—it’s a chance to delight dance families with great service, cut down on wasted time and effort, and make a profit for your business.
Here are 5 TIPS to make your recital costume process a positive and profitable one.
#5 – Order EARLY. You know how we all tell our kids not to lose points at competition on the obvious (e.g. not pointing toes)? Well, ordering early is the “pointing toes” of costumes. It’s plain silly to know you can earn an early order discount with most companies and not do it. Spend some time over Thanksgiving break to get your ducks in a row for an early December order. If the early order discount doesn’t excite you, then get excited over the idea of a timely delivery!
#4 – Measure and order ACCURATELY. When I started my studio 17 years ago, all of the teachers would measure the kids in their own classes. I did it that way out of necessity—I didn’t feel I had any extra resources to pay someone to take that on. Well, my system may have been “free,” but it wasn’t without cost. With 15 different teachers measuring 15 slightly different ways, our costs on exchanges went through the roof. In addition, there were missed orders for kids who registered late and got missed by teachers altogether. I changed my process about ten years and now we have one person in charge of all costume measuring and ordering. Accuracy is up and exchanges/missed orders are down. Getting one person to champion this project saves me way more than I spend for her time.
The next 3 tips will supercharge your savings!
Break up with your phone.
Have you ever closed your laptop and said, “That’s enough for tonight” only to crawl into your bed and scroll Facebook for another 40 minutes? I’ve been there and it’s a BAD idea for a number of reasons. Science tells us that the blue light coming off of our devices destroys the melatonin we need for a good night’s sleep. And, if you DO get to sleep, you might be woken by email alerts from a parent who forgot their child’s shoes, but is just remembering to write you about it 2 a.m.
Now let’s talk about mornings. Do you roll over after your alarm goes off and start thumbing at the screen lock for a peek at the activity that you may have missed while sleeping? I know all you want to do is take a quick peek around your email, texts and social to make sure everything is okay before getting out of bed. I get it. The problem is that in doing so, you effectively hand over the steering wheel of your day to someone else’s agenda. You are now in reactive and not proactive mode, which is a close second to starting-the-day-without-coffee on the list of bad ideas for entrepreneurs.
Start owning your calendar.
Recently I blocked the following into my Google calendar: Morning Reading and Devotional Time, Exercise, Writing, Business Development, Lunch with Husband, Time with Kids, Email and Phone Calls. Yes, I write them with capital letters because to me they are proper nouns—as in if I don’t treat my time properly no one else will. Now when somebody wants to do a call, go to lunch or meet at the office I literally have take something of real value to me OFF the calendar to make room for the new activity. If I look at my calendar and have to choose between another evening meeting at the studio or Time with Kids, my kids win almost every time. But, if my calendar is empty, I’ll just fill with things that take me away from the kids. The truth of the matter is that I can always attend another meeting, but I’ll never get a second chance to raise my kids.
Eat the bullfrog first.
Here’s a math problem for you:
You have a list of ten things to do.
Seven are easy and three are hard.
What do you do?
The seven easy things, of course, because we love to feel accomplished and crossing things off of our list helps us to feel like we are really getting things done. But are we? What about the three meaningful, but hard things, get transferred from list to list until you’ve spent more time rewriting the difficult tasks than it would’ve taken to just do them.
The reality is that for as many hats as you wear at the studio, there are only a few functions that really move the business forward. To that end, may I suggest re-organizing your to-do to begin the day with the hardest/most meaningful task. That’s “eating the bullfrog first” is all about—tackling the ugliest, yuckiest project on your list and getting on with more pleasant things after that. If you can eat the bullfrog first, everything else after that is easy.
Are you ready to get back on your A+ game? Then turn off your phone, fill up your calendar with your own proper nouns and eat the biggest bullfrog in your day before noon☺
Looking for more great expert advice before your spring recital? Check out:
Remember when your high school math teacher told you that you’d need to understand algebra to get by later on in life? You probably scoffed, as many kids do. But we’re here again to go over more calculations that are essential to your dance studio’s success. Hang up your dance shoes and break out the calculator, and get ready for part two of our “Crunching the Numbers” series.
Any small business has to do a fair bit of marketing, and your studio is likely no exception. The fliers you print, the ads you run and the referral program you promote are all ways that you market your dance school in hopes of drumming up new business. But how are you supposed to know if your marketing efforts are working? That’s where metrics for marketing for dance studios come in. Read on to learn how you can calculate marketing return on investment, customer acquisition costs and more.
Marketing Return on Investment
First up is return on investment, commonly referred to as ROI. The concept is simple: You need to figure out how much business you’re gaining in relation to what you’re spending on marketing. For this calculation, you’re going to need your gross profit. You can refer back to part one of this series if you need a refresher on how to find this number.
To find marketing ROI, subtract your marketing investment – how much you spent on marketing services – from your gross profit. Then, you divide the answer by the marketing investment. So if your gross profit is $5,000 and you spent $1,000 on marketing, ROI would be $5,000 minus $1,000, then divided by $1,000. This gives you a marketing ROI of $4 – that means for every $1 you spent on marketing efforts, you got $4 worth of business.
This calculation is essential when you’re evaluating your marketing strategy season over season. It’s always good to try new campaigns – whether it’s direct mail, sale sites or something else – but you should evaluate the worth of a strategy after a given season. If your marketing ROI dips, chances are your new marketing efforts aren’t paying off.
Customer Acquisition Cost
Another important marketing metric is the customer acquisition cost, also called CAC. This is essentially how much money you have to spend on marketing in order to get one new student. The calculation is a simple one.
To find your CAC, set a defined time period. A good measure might be over the course of one dance season. Take the total amount you spent on marketing and divide it by the number of new students you acquired. So if you spent $1,000 on marketing and 20 new students signed up, your CAC is $50.
This metric by itself just tells you that you need to spend $50 to get one new student in the door. However, you can use CAC to calculate other more revealing numbers that will help you adjust your marketing and prices.
Time to Pay Back CAC
One way to use CAC to your advantage is to calculate how long it takes you to make back the money spent on acquiring each customer. You can calculate this in terms of seasons or months, whichever works for you.
To calculate time to pay back CAC, start buy subtracting your seasonal cost per student from the revenue per student. Divide your CAC by this number for time to pay back. So working off the example above, if you earn $500 per student per season and spend $300 per student, you’ll need to divide $50 by $200. This leaves you with an answer of 0.25, meaning you break even on a student’s acquisition cost after 1/4 of a season. Easy right?